WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from November 16 - 21, 2007 on the Guru's Den
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Philip in China: Just something to consider. If you buy tools in the U.S. have them shipped to a friend for consolidation and forwarding. USPS now offers Priority Mail flat rate box service overseas. For up to 20 pounds it is $37.

I make punches from old large ballpeen hammer heads. During the last Anvilfire conference I was doing one as a powerhammer demonstration for someone. One blow shattered the ball end. No doubt cast iron.

For a while I tried to use 3-LB Chinese sledge heads to weld onto a piece of plate for a flatter. Would consistently break at weld with a sand-like appearance.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) - Friday, 11/16/07 02:09:07 EST

Cheap Poor Quality Tools: These have been around for a long time. However, distributors were much more honest at one time. In the 1800's and early 1900's they made and sold cheap cast iron anvils as well as top grade anvils. They were sold side by side with the obvious price difference and they were properly described. The cast iron anvils were sold with some hype but they were suggested for homeowner or lite farm use and had no warrantee while the top quality anvils next to them loudly proclaimed theirs.

Today you have major tool retailers selling only one type anvil, the junk cast iron ones, with nothing to directly compare them to. You also have fly by night sellers on ebay claiming the same anvils are hardened steel. I saw one cast iron anvil being sold simply as a "hardened anvil". Pretty slippery wording to get around saying "cast iron"

A short generation ago we had many less choices to buy tools from. However, most sold reasonably good tools and the majority were as good as you could get. The ONLY place you found cast iron hammers were in toy kits among other useless plastic tools. Sears WAS where "America Shopped" and with the exception of their later electric tools their entire line of Craftsman tools was first class. Even their lower quality "Sears" line were good tools. Hardware stores sold nothing but major U.S. manufacturers lines that often the absolute best money could buy AND were reasonably priced. . . But that was also when the a majority of the products sold in the U.S. were MADE in the U.S.

Today the ancient and legalese latin phrase "Caveat Emptor" (Let the buyer Beware) is even more important to everyone.

This is an idea in commercial law that says that buyers take responsibility for the condition (or quality) of items they purchase and should examine them before purchase. This is especially true for items that are not covered under a strict warranty.

"Look before you leap" is a similar warning. . .
   - guru - Friday, 11/16/07 08:52:55 EST

"Caveat Emptor" . . The problem is when the buyer does not know what to look for OR CANNOT and the manufacturer represents it as something else. Look at the problem with lead paint in toys. . there is no way to tell by just looking at the toy nor a quick test (hmmm tastes like lead. . ).

In metals it is just as complicated. Steel can have and unbelievable range of quality as well as composition. We have gotten used to plentiful high quality steel with bad steel being the rarity. This has changed dramatically in recent years. You don't have to use cast iron to make a low quality tool. There are plenty of grades of steel, particularly those made from scrap, that are terrible materials and are actually worse than cast iron. But the manufacturer (and resellers) can honestly say the product is "tempered steel".

The problem for the tool buying consumer is just like the lead paint. Bad steel looks just like good steel. Cast iron actually LOOKs different if you know what you are looking at. But bad steel can be machined, polished, hardness tested. . . and crumble or crack on the first application of force.

To protect yourself all you can do is buy known brands with clear warranties or from dealers who back the products they sell and who you feel you can trust. If nothing else, ask questions.
   - guru - Friday, 11/16/07 10:33:18 EST

More on fire steels.

Some of the most exquisite small pieces from Old Mexico are what I would term "Gentlemen's fire steels". They are noteworthy for their zoomorphic chased and openworked iron figures that are attached atop the steel portions. There are eight shown in "The Art of Ironworks in Mexico", pages 122-23. There is one horse, four canine forms, and the rest are fabulous critters.
ISBN 968-6258-48-5

   Frank Turley - Friday, 11/16/07 11:45:55 EST

Jock, thanks for doing all that work, it is nice. I'll probably do my own artwork based on the books cover design (by the way, I messed up, it was The Blacksmith's Craft, not Practical Smithing). I did take 2 semesters of graphic design in college in '92 but stopped because I didn't like the constraints placed upon my artwork by the coursework. Of course now graphic design is all computer now so the courses I took aren't really worth anything now. I think this is why I love hobby smithing, the only limitation is my imagination. And by the way, thanks for the tip about me not being a machine that produces arc welding.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 11/16/07 13:30:08 EST

Welder and Weldor: The words sound enough alike that unless pronounced very well we do not recognize the difference and a lot of folks make that mistake.

There are some good cheats for drawing if you have a digital camera OR an image and a scanner. Once your composition is in a digital file you can trace it in any number of programs to produce an accurate drawing. I've done a few as an excersize using a simple paint program. Lighten the image a lot, trace, lighten and increase contrast until the image is gone and all that is left is the traced lines. . . There is a similar process using India ink to trace a B&W photo then washing off the image with iodine. About the same results.

Note however that using someone else's photo or illustration and tracing it has copyright issues as well.
   - guru - Friday, 11/16/07 14:43:29 EST

This isn't supposed to be insulting or anything, but do you guys really have that much trouble drawing an anvil on paper/digitally?
   Nabiul Haque - Friday, 11/16/07 15:42:13 EST

Nabiul, A LOT of people do and there are some amazingly BAD illustrations in published books to prove it. I got so tired of looking at them that I wrote this article.

Bad Illustrations:

Actually anvils are just as difficult to draw as any familiar item. Most made in the last 200 years have a grace and style that is quite distinctive. So when you draw the work of another artist, a metal sculptor who made that object, you need to capture the essence of that work.
   - guru - Friday, 11/16/07 16:09:44 EST

Just for the heck of it, I just looked in three different dictionaries, including the OED. All three listed "welder" as referring to both the person and the machine. Only one, *not* the OED, listed "weldor" as an alternate form referring only to the person. It's a useful distinction, but I don't think it's really fair to say Nipp was wrong . . .
   Mike BR - Friday, 11/16/07 18:50:20 EST

You beat me to it, Mike. The weldor/welder spelling distinction seems to be limited to the metal working trades (and I don't know whether it's the dominant usage in that context or not). It hasn't really been accepted in the common parlance yet. Maybe someday it will be, but in the meantime "welder" is more commonly considered correct. I wouldn't criticize either spelling.

I'm surprised you didn't find it in the OED, though. A quick Google Books search shows uses of "weldor" as far back as at least 1910. (I didn't look at all the results.) "Welder" looks to have been more common even back then, though.

Jock, maybe you should be the guy to recommend weldor for inclusion in the OED: http://www.oed.com/readers/research.html
   Matt B - Friday, 11/16/07 20:03:51 EST

Propane forge exhaust just seems to want to linger. My forge is totally outside in the open but the miasma was inescapable until I fabricated a 5' x 10' teepee chimney to enclose it and carry the exhaust fumes up, up and away--from me, anyway. Once upon a time I had the forge inside the shop and even with both doors open for cross-draft and the ridge transom hatch wide open, it was sickening, headache-making. ”Muy peligroso! Don't mess around with it.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 11/16/07 21:20:29 EST

In my big shop the office was upstairs and 35 feet from the forge location. Directly above the forge on the ceiling there is a 3 foot exhust fan that exhusts out of the opposite end of the building from the office. However, for some reason the gas forge fumes would be worse in the closed office than in the shop near the forge. The stairwell leading to the office was closed in to help prevent smoke infiltration at ceiling level. . but that is where it went.

You never can tell with these things and you can't have enough ventilation.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/17/07 00:09:26 EST

Well, you guys got me on "weldor". My 1916 Websters Unabridged has Welder, One that welds, specifically a step down transformer. . . but no "weldor". Two other books I trust also used "welder"

It must be like "flautist", a made up hoyfaloy word for "flute player" which had been the correct term for centuries until some "artiest" called himself a flautist. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 11/17/07 00:34:34 EST


Living in a tropical marine environment as I do, rust is an ever-present enemy. The best solution I have found for my tools, from anvil to table saw, is a product called "Bullfrog Rust Blocker." It is non-aerosol spray formula of a vapor corrosion inhibitor (VCI) that is remarkably effective and inexpensive. About ten bucks for a pint, which is more than enough to keep all my sundry tools and equipment rust-free for a couple of years.

I get mine from a nice outfit called The Rust Store (www.theruststore.com), and since it is *not* a haz-mat item it can be mailed to me. Great stuff!
   vicopper - Saturday, 11/17/07 00:35:03 EST

Weldor is a neologism coined by Lincoln, isn't it? Seems to me that's where I saw it first, in their marvelous old arc welding handbook. Or maybe it's Linde. Whatever, I find my beads get 27% better when I tell myself I am a weldor.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 11/17/07 01:05:59 EST

It has not been all that unusual for a company to make both high-quality and low-end products targeting different markets. Take store brands. The same production plant may put on a name brand label, say DelMonte Peas, then switch over to a store brand label - e.g., Value Right Peas. Same product, just the name brand will be priced higher than the store brand even if sold in the same retail outlet.

I've been told some companies which sell through Wal-Mart offer two qualities. For example, even under the same name brand, what you get in Wal-Mart will be a lessor quality as sold through other retailers.

Recently some anvils have shown up on eBay with the only marking being a six-pointed star, with either a triange or circle within the star. However, one did have two patent dates on the bottom. One of those exactly matched a known F&N patent date. In Anvils in America, in the section on the American Star, he noted they continued to be advertised along with Fishers long after the American Anvil Works is believed to have gone out of business. Now seems like F&N make two anvil qualities, their high-end Fishers and this low-end, what Postman would call a 'farmer's anvil'. The six-point star ones are likely chilled cast iron vs F&N steel plate on cast iron.

On Frankie8..., his feedback does indicate satisfied buyers.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) - Saturday, 11/17/07 05:38:29 EST


I'm sure this isn't true everywhere, but a former co-worker of mine worked a couple of summers packing pineapples for a big name in Hawaii. She said they sorted the pineapples when they came in; the good ones got the brand name, and the seconds went into cans with store-brand lables.

My gas forge is toward the back of a one-car garage. I have an exhaust fan in the front gable, and a man door at the back corner I keep open for makeup air. If I put something in the forge that makes smoke (I shouldn't, I know), the smoke goes up in a straight column and disappears among the rafters. I have to assume the fumes do the same.

I also have a furnace fan that pulls air through the north soffit and blows it directly on me through an 8" duct. (The man door opens south on a bricked patio, so the makeup air tends to be a little warm in the summer). When I start the fan, the column of smoke breaks up and mixes with the ambient air. You'd think the extra fresh air would improve the air quality, but the mixing seems to make things quite a bit worse.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 11/17/07 08:53:49 EST

Tire shrinker question:
An older gentleman came out to see my shop. He said it had been a long time since he had seen a power hammer, so I put a RR spike in the forge and drew it out to make a steak turner for him. A few days later he returned with an old Canedy-Otto No. 7 Western Chief tire shrinker. He said it was not for sale, he just thought my shop would be a better home.
It has been setting outside for many years, but I got it all apart to clean up. Here is my question: What did the removable handle look like? How long? Did it have a bend at one end like an Edwards shear?
I have never needed to shrink a tire, but if I'm going to put this in the shop, I want it to be in working condition. Thanks for any help.
   - Tbird - Saturday, 11/17/07 09:18:28 EST

In my shop, the gas forge is at the end of the shop with the highest peak. Directly over the forge is the 24" wind turbine ventalator. At the low end of the shop I have several vent openings, depending on the outside temp and so forth. I have a big 5' by 6' door, a 60 x 60 louver, and a clearview storm door, mounted sideways that can be opened as a awning style. With any of the vents open the forge ezhaust goes straight up with great rapidity. The turbine speeds up with the forge on sounding like a Sirkorsky at take off! I have smoke tested a bit and the smoke also goes straght up. I have never had any CO issues in this shop. The prevailing wind also helps in that it blows into the down shop vents. I got lucky as the turbine and the louvers were all pull off from where I worked and FREE! Ahh the power of little patch knives and the odd ring made from what the guy worked with every day.
   ptree - Saturday, 11/17/07 09:32:40 EST

How does one post pictures to this forum?
   james gonzalez - Saturday, 11/17/07 10:10:26 EST

James, the public cannot post images here. That causes a lot of problems and requires a registration system and keeping track of who can do what. If you have a question you can mail one of us the image. If its something that really needs posting I can do it.

   - guru - Saturday, 11/17/07 11:02:42 EST

Canedy Otto Shrinker: These had two handle types, Round bar that fit in sockets and flat bar that fit in a cast rectangular socket. The flat bars did not come with the machine so whatever fits that you make is correct. The round bars were usually part of the machine, CF bar about 18" to two feet long with rounded (machined) ends.

The catalog is not specific about the flat bar handle size.
   - guru - Saturday, 11/17/07 11:24:09 EST

Not that important, guru.
Thanks for the explanation.
   james gonzalez - Saturday, 11/17/07 13:00:43 EST

In defense of the welder/weldor argument, the Haynes Techbook Welding Manual lists one as the machine and the other as the person doing the work.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 11/17/07 22:56:21 EST

"There are plenty of grades of steel, particularly those made from scrap, that are terrible materials and are actually worse than cast iron. But the manufacturer (and resellers) can honestly say the product is "tempered steel"."
Guru, you cast aspersions on making steel from scrap but the majority of steel made today is melted scrap. Imagine what our landfills would look like if we just buried scrap metal instead of recycling it. You must understand that scrap is carefully sorted and sold by grade. The scrap is put into the furnace and first melted down under a slag. A chemical analysis is done to determine exactly where the chemistry is. If the carbon is high, oxygen is blown into the liquid steel to oxidize it to CO and CO2. The slag is there to prevent unwanted oxidation at the surface. When the liquid steel is in the correct temperature range to cast, it is tapped into a ladle and the appropriate alloys are added as the heat is tapped. It is no longer scrap metal, it is highly refined steel. High grade steels are always treated in an LMF, ladle metallurgy furnace, which holds the liquid at a precise temperature while the liquid steel is gently agitated with argon. The impurities are entrained in the slag, and the heat is fully killed and calcium treated. It is often vacuum treated to remove most of the entrained gasses before it is killed. Today, it is common for a mill to be able to produce a steel with no detectable sulfur and almost no detectable phosphorus. Just 30 years ago, this would have been impossible. Most high pressure pipe lines, bridge plates, ship steel, off-shore drilling rigs, automobile bodies, etc., are made from recycled scrap. Obviously, this is an extreme simplification of the process but it is not just getting it gushy and stuffing it into a mold. Even third world mills are capable of producing high quality steel. I am willing to bet that a lot of the problems people have with steel is from their own ignorance of how to process it.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/18/07 09:26:50 EST

Hi guys I have a question about a fence 75 lb power hammer, has anybody heard of them. If so what info. can you give, are parts still around are they repairable. Thank you . Otis
   Otisthedogking - Sunday, 11/18/07 10:07:19 EST


I'm curious as to how most tool steels are made these days, the steels with the letter/number designations...electric furnace? Can ladle metallurgy do the job?

The steels identified with the four digit (sometimes 5), as say, 4140etc,...how do we call these generically? I've seen them referred to as "standard steels" and also simply "alloy steels." Although not specifically called tool steels, I realize that tools are made from some of them and that some are hardenable/temperable.
Thank you.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 11/18/07 11:49:08 EST

Guru, could you point me to some references on how to make jigs. I can do basic machining and welding, I am just looking for some techniques on making jigs with some close tolerances.
   Mike - Sunday, 11/18/07 12:27:35 EST

Frank, Most steels made today in small tonnages are electric furnace steels cast into small ingots. The Timken Company makes extremely high quality steel and they melt scrap and cast into ingots. Their Latrobe tool steel division also starts with scrap, albeit high quality and maybe high carbon scrap, and melt it under very stringent conditions. Some extremely high quality steels are made with VAR, vacuum arc remelt, but the vacuum degassers are more common. All will utilize LMF's to get extremely clean, fine grained steel. The beauty of the LMF is that it can keep 150 tons of steel at a precise temperature while you are adding hundreds or thousands of pounds of COLD alloys. To ensure these alloys get melted in without dropping the temperature of the liquid steel, you need to keep adding heat. The LMF's have two or three electrodeds similar to the EAF that keep the temperature up. 4140 and similar are considered alloy steels, not tool steels, although we make a lot of tools from them.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 11/18/07 12:40:01 EST

Does anyone know the likly carbon content of straping steel? The reason I ask is I was going to make a laminated blade out of it. Thanks.
   troy - Sunday, 11/18/07 20:21:12 EST

I work in a small shop where everything has to be though over 3 times before i add anything in there in order to keep efficiency.

I dont really have place for a power hammer because of space constraint. I read about the Ka75 sticker but the price is between 4 to 5 grant. This seems to be a small hammer that could fit on my tinny shop

The other alternative was to use a fly press. Can a fly press draw stock up to 1". I heard many times that people are using fly press as a substitute to power hammer where they have to control the noise I usually work on small pieces like flowers, leaves, etc.. Doing major project like railing or huge pieces is not part of what i am interested in.

Any thoughts

Thanks in advance
   Dan - Sunday, 11/18/07 20:34:12 EST

Dan, Look at the JYH,(Junk Yard Hammer), section in the drop down box. I made one that takes up very little space and is quite effective (The spare tire hammer, mine is a 35# ram). Cost about $400.00 to make and I didn't need to fiddle around with foundation substructure which is a cost new power hammer owners don't take into consideration.
   Roland - Sunday, 11/18/07 21:07:43 EST

Thanks Roland for your prompt reply.
I used the drop down menu of power hammer and saw some of the hammer that you are talking about. Where do I get a blueprint of what you build.

400 dollars and small sounds good to me

   Dan - Sunday, 11/18/07 21:22:26 EST

Jigs Troy, there are all kinds of jigs, drill jigs, assembly jigs, cutting jigs, bending jigs. . . We have an article on Bending Jigs that applies to welding and blacksmithing should get you started.
   - guru - Sunday, 11/18/07 22:05:26 EST

Junk Yard Hammers: Dan, The reason these are called "Junk Yard" hammers is that they are made from whatever junk you can find and get the best deal on. Every part is subject to replacement with things different that what anyone else has used. This is how the cost is held down.

Example, The Big Green NC Tire Hammer was built using discarded NASCAR suspension rod ends. These were available to the shop that built the hammer as common throw away items (replaced after every race). The frame was built from new/scrap 6" x 8" structural tube that was on hand. They also used $50 a ball bearing pillow block. This is a part that worked well enough that I would buy one rather than do without.

On the EC-JYH I used a bunch of drops we had at our fabrication shop. These were combined with a bunch of auto parts that were in the way or junk. The most cash I spent was on the electric wiring (box, cord, ends. . ). I'll cut corners a LOT of places but never on electrics.

I also used two electric motors to get the HP I wanted from motors on hand. YES, this works if you use motors with the same operating characteristics and the same pulleys.

If you buy all the parts and materials new and you use at least a 10:1 anvil ratio you can easily spend $1500 to $2500 to build a 50 to 100 pound hammer. To follow a design exactly, that is what it takes.
   - guru - Monday, 11/19/07 00:02:46 EST

I have a horseshoeing anvil purchased in 1982. It has an raised insignia that looks like a crown with an Q attached to the underside of the crown. It has "Made in Sweden" on it with the number 56 on one side and M2065 on the other. Can you tell me anything about the anvil and where I might get more info. I don't know the name of the company that made it. Thanks, Dave
   Dave - Monday, 11/19/07 00:06:24 EST

Flypresses, Treadle Hammers, more. . . Note that screw presses are not a substitute for a power hammer. Their cycle time is too slow for drawing and they are manually powered. If the drawing is too much while using a hand hammer a manually powered machine is STILL manual power. Same with a treadle hammer. These machines help guide and control the effort as well as multiplying the force. But the energy to do the work comes from you all the same. As they say, there is no free lunch.

The KA hammer is very compact and the original Bull hammers had a similar foot print. However, both of these machines require an air compressor which takes up space somewhere.

Folks that need a machine bad enough find a way. You would be surprised at how many power hammers are out in a yard under a tarp or temporary shed. Or part of the machine is outside and part inside. . .

   - guru - Monday, 11/19/07 00:11:16 EST

Anvil With Crown: Dave, it sounds like it might be a Kohlswa. These are a cast steel anvil. They are still made. Not many are imported these days. At one time they were quite popular (I have a 300 pound and had a 100) and Centaur Forge had them make "Centaur" anvils back in the 1970's.

Try http://www.kohlswagjuteri.se/
   - guru - Monday, 11/19/07 00:27:02 EST

Scrap, Iron and Steel: I did not mean to imply that all steel made from scrap is bad. However, there are low quality foundry operations that melt whatever they can find and cast it without consideration for the chemistry. . . That is where a lot of the "sorta steel" Chinese hammers come from. . I've known U.S. foundries to do the same but it was for non-critical items. The application makes a big difference.
   - guru - Monday, 11/19/07 00:31:08 EST

Dave, can you take a photo of the logo of the anvil and show us?
   SCB - Monday, 11/19/07 01:51:00 EST

SCB - Yes, I will take a picture on Monday during the day. Do you know if I could contact Kohlswa and check the numbers on the anvil? Dave
   Dave - Monday, 11/19/07 02:28:20 EST

How do you attach a photo to my comments?
   Dave - Monday, 11/19/07 11:23:01 EST

Troy the carbon content of pallet strapping probably ranges quite a lot depending on how critical a use it is in; though the lower end uses are non metallic strapping now days.

Since each one may differ I would suggest doing a simple heat/quench/break test to weed out the lower carbon versions.

In general I try to make sure that all the billet materials are high carbon if I will be making a knife from it. The low carbon strapping I reserved for non-blade ornamental pattern welding.

Note that if you are concerned about carbon content of the finished piece you can boost it up a bit by including some good file steel at the start. I like the old pre-nicholson stamped Black Diamond files that were 1.2% C. A great carbon donor!

   Thomas P - Monday, 11/19/07 11:52:07 EST

   guru - Monday, 11/19/07 12:08:48 EST

Very strange. I am having all kinds of posting problems this AM.
   guru - Monday, 11/19/07 12:10:28 EST

Dave, Photos must be emailed. We do not allow embeded images for security reasons.

Note that I said it MIGHT be a Kohlswa. Sound like there logo but all the old ones I have seen just had "KOHLSWA SWEDEN" in faint (scratched into the pattern) letters.
   guru - Monday, 11/19/07 12:13:33 EST

Guru, I'm with QC on the steel issue. I'm not aware of any reputable US manufacturer taking shortcuts. As to Latrobe Tool Steel, we occasionally supply them 1 off ingots from our operation - induction melt, ladle furnace, and vacuum degas. Analyzed on state of the art equipment for C, S, and all alloy and residual elements, and yes our primary raw material is scrap, various ferroalloys, and on occasions high purity additives such as electrolytic Chromium and electrolytic manganese. We also produce master alloys for foundries using the same equipment. Grades produced include tool steels, nickel based alloys, stainless steels, cobalt based alloys, and cupronickels.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 11/19/07 13:06:07 EST

Dan, Ditto on what the guru said. I emailed a guy who has plans for that hammer and he should get back to you. Personally, I "Rube Goldberged" the hammer together without plans, something I'm sure any competent smith could do, we all seem to have an innate knowledge of how things work and adaptation, including reverse engineering is part of the trade.
   Roland - Monday, 11/19/07 13:26:40 EST

Guru, well, I cannot speak for the independant steel foundry products, but I workded in a cast iron foundry and we always ran to strict specifications and tested the products regularly. We did not make anvils but we did pour 48,000 lb ball mill heads out of ductile iron. This was always a race to get the iron in the mold before the nodular iron in the ladle reverted to flake graphitic iron.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 11/19/07 16:29:02 EST

Modifing a whisper daddy. Can you seal off one of the ports with kaowool and how would this affect the forge? Thanks
   - Tim - Monday, 11/19/07 17:17:50 EST

Tim, There must be one vent but these forges come standard with one port, two end ports with or without doors and an optional back port. They heat much better with only one port open or the end port only models with one port closed or both half closed.

Closing ports on these forges is commonly done with a scrap of kaowool, or a trimmed insulating brick. Just remember they MUST have at least one open.
   guru - Monday, 11/19/07 18:22:56 EST

Thanks Roland. I will be waiting for the plan. I agree I can probably try to build something on my own except that my version 3 of everything is always much better than my version 1.

On this one, I would rather build from a blueprint if it already exist

Thanks for everything

   Dan - Monday, 11/19/07 18:23:52 EST


See tirehammerman@tirehammer.com. Clay Spencer goes around the U.S. holding workshops in which each participant builds a group of spare tire hammers. Cost is about $2K, but you do go home with a working hammer.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) - Monday, 11/19/07 18:40:03 EST

When using the kaowool to make a "plug" for the port of the whisper daddy forge do you use it as is just "stuffed" into the port or do you cut it to size then coat the "plug" with ITC-100? How thick do you want the plug to be? With blocking half of the ports I assume it is better to block them from the top? Also is there a way of decreasing the size of the firebox with firebrick or some other material to make them more effecient? As always I am indebted to you. Tim
   - Tim - Monday, 11/19/07 18:55:21 EST

Dan, you are way ahead of me, I don't get a good one till version 7 or 8:)
Seriously, I built a JYH in 2002, and I have been improving ever since. I think I am at version 4 or 5 at least. I have learned a great deal from the building, using and changing. Since I can scrounge pretty well, (Not however up to the disreputable hatted ones standards though) I have probably $200 in the hammer and foundation. And I have run it alot since 2002.
   ptree - Monday, 11/19/07 19:54:24 EST

Tim, I thought you were talking about the VENT ports. The volume of most gas forges is proportional to the burners and that ratio should be maintained. The ends of the burners are cooled by the gas air mixture passing through them. Turning them off can be bad for the burner. VENT port plugs can be done any way you want but they should not be a tight fit.

While various folks modify their commercial forges I do not recommend it.

The down side to gas forges is one size DOES NOT fit all. If you rely on gas forges for a wide range of work you should have different forges. This is the big advantage of solid fuel forges. You can make a small fire for 1/4" work or a big fire for making long twists in 1". . all in the same forge with a good fuel efficiency.
   guru - Monday, 11/19/07 20:06:47 EST

Thanks guru, I was talking about the blocking off one of the side ports not one of the 3 burner ports. I will try plugging one of them with kaowool and see how that goes.
   - Tim - Monday, 11/19/07 21:06:17 EST

quenchcrack: What is your estimate on the percentage of metal of any sort made in the U.S. today which doesn't include any scrap? I participate in the local Earth Day program for 4th & 5th graders and next time want to include how I reduce/reuse/recycle in my shop.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) - Monday, 11/19/07 21:41:02 EST

Ken mentioned Clay Spencer, one of his "diciples(sp)" is who I contacted, he said he'd forward the request to Clay which should get you a response. By the way, if I had ptree's staminia, I might be working on my 4th or 5th hammer also......I just figure I'll wait till it breaks and then re-do the problem area and everything else I think should be improved. 3 yr's, no problem yet, "XX",(I think that means fingers crossed).
   Roland - Monday, 11/19/07 22:20:44 EST

Ken, I am not really qualified to make that estimate with any authority. However, even iron made from iron ore in a blast furnace is mixed with about 20% scrap in the BOF. Aluminum is heavily recycled but new aluminum is made from bauxite in LARGE tonnages. Don't forget that a lot of metal is made overseas and dumped in the US. Who knows how that material is made.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/20/07 09:31:31 EST

Ken, I again have to agree with QC regarding metal recycling. Some additional thoughts though - a lot of titanium is new production, rather than remelting/refining scrap. Same for many alloying elements procured from overseas or in the US - ferosilicon, ferocolumbium, feromanganese, aluminothermic chrome, etc. are largely newly produced materials. On the other hand they're used sparingly in modern steelmaking due to the extensive recylcling of scrap. Even tungsten carbide tools are colleted and recycled.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 11/20/07 12:15:18 EST

When you're buying new stock from the mill, simply ask for certs. Because I make jewelry with my steels, I need to be able to prove what the material is, so I always ask for certs. The cert will tell you EVERYTHING about the content and origin of your material. Most of the 316L stock I have is made in the Czech republic, some of the high carbon alloys I have are certified from Germany. I have yet to find a cert from USA.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 11/20/07 15:27:10 EST

Regarding steel certs:
Unfortunately getting the certification slip still does not always guarantee what you are buying. A company in Texas was busted earlier this year for selling mystery steel pipes sourced from China along with forged certification documents stating that they were made in the US and were comprised of high alloy steels or stainless.
   Steven Galonska - Tuesday, 11/20/07 16:29:26 EST

My favorite micrometer manufacturer went down in flames due to their new aircraft parts division reusing x-rays of parts. . . The J.T. Slocomb Company had been in business for over 100 years. Oddly, if you look them up on the internet you would think they were a going concern because their web site is still up a year after all the assets were sold at absolute auction.

When the materials certs requirements hit the nuclear industry there were dozens of plants partially built and millions of parts without certs. Engineers had to make judgment calls on anything they had in work flow.

Then there are certs and there are certs. If you told the company you were buying the material from that it was for medical devices you might find that certs were not available or that you could not afford what the charged for the cert. When a cert simply says that the previous supplier said the material was such and such it is often just passing the buck on to someone else.

The big problem is that any given bar of metal does not permanently have embedded into it the source information or an identifying code. What happened to that material going from warehouse, to ship, to truck, to warehouse, to shelf, to another truck to local distributor? At every step in the supply chain there is a chance for substitution or mixing of lots. The only way to be SURE is to have the bar that YOU purchased marked and tested. Then you can certify that it is what it is. .
   guru - Tuesday, 11/20/07 17:43:11 EST

Re: certs.
I know of a case locally that occured in a hospital near here. In construction they used pipe from mills in Italy, all certified. All for the high pressure gasses used in medicine. When they hydro'ed the system it looked like a downpour from the split lap welded seams. All on certified seamless pipe. It ended up with the FBI going to the mill sites in Italy. Muddy, empty fields. They never did find out the real source.
The valve company I worked for built "N" stamp valves. We used all cert'ed steel, and had cradle to grave paper on our end. BUT, and this is a big BUT, since we hot forged the pressure vessle parts of the valves we were the maker of the material in the eyes of ASME. WE got certs, but tested a crop end of EVERY SINGLE BAR, and yes we did stamp a heat code in those bars.
We were called in by the FBI as a Nuke plant in Calf. had been hydro'ing piping and the valves BURST. SHATTERED! And they had our nameplates,what looked like our paperwork, and were hand stamped on the sides of the valves with the same info we put on our "N" stamp valves. They stamped in the info right after they ground off the cast iron markings from the original, junk valve makers that indicated these were a 150# class valve. They were then stamped as forged steel material, 1500# class.
The nameplates were a superb copy, the paper not bad, and the valves were nothing like ours. We had never been approached to even quote the job. Imagine if they had used something just a little better, that would have snuck through the hydro, and maybe com on line before failing.
To quote Henry Vogt Hueser Sr, the owner of the valve company, "often you get what you inspect, not what you expect!"

For some sobering info goggle the ASME report of some years back called "The Chinese Flanges"
   ptree - Tuesday, 11/20/07 18:26:03 EST

Material Test Reports: these are really easy to forge with a scanner and printer. I live in Houston and spoke with an inspection company who inspects a lot of Chinese pipe. The owner said it is common to reject the entire heat of steel due to defects that exceed API specifications. They don't care about quality, it is all about shipping tons into the US Market. However, I have had customers here in the US try to pull fast ones with paperwork, too. If in doubt, contact the mill directly and they can usually find the real MTR, if there is one. Besides, we all need to know when our names are being sullied by crooked dealers.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 11/20/07 18:55:06 EST

SOOOO. . . Back to my point earlier about bad steel in products. While on one hand some of the finest materials ever made are being made today, some of the absolute worst in over a century are now being seen in warehouses and products.

While imported raw materials are often inspected by U.S. manufacturers there is a big difference in manufactured products that are rarely if ever returned and sold by those that do not care. . Besides falsification of certs there are also tons of phony products being made such as replacement auto parts. Japan developed a gigantic cottage industry of micro manufactures to make auto parts. These family operations spread across Southeast Asia are not covered by child labor laws, benefits or safety regulations. This also produced thousands of small parts manufacturers that would make anything for anyone. . .

On one of the small machine tool web sites they took a tour of the factory in China that made their machines. While they were bragging about the operation it was clear that this was NOT a first class operation. The plant, originally built for something else, was dimly lit by dirty skylights (the electric lighting not used) The concrete floor between machines was broken up and still covered with debris from the previous occupation. The quality control office was manned by a poor guy working in a dark unlit office. There was a desk and a pair of micrometers for inspection tools. This was considered a large well operated manufacturer. This was not one of the small family operations making parts for your Lexus.

The supply chain in today's global market is one of unbelievable contrasts. You have robotic factories on one hand and slave wage machine shops with dirt floors on the other. You have makers in the West using high tech in blacksmith and bladesmiths shops competing with shops out of the 18th century in the East. We have hobby shops in the West that would be considered a major manufacturing operation in most of the rest of the world. Shipping globally only ads a few cents a pound and puts the world's lowest cost shops in head to head competition with the most advanced.

Its a vastly different world than it was just a few decades ago.
   guru - Tuesday, 11/20/07 19:54:31 EST

I used to hear a lot about fraud by Defense contractors. I think the scariest one was falisfying the heat treat records for the nuts that hold the rotor onto a Huey. Or more accurately, hold the Huey onto the rotor.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 11/20/07 22:04:07 EST

We used to recieve certs for aluminum coil that were in russian ( not very good stuff) and for some strange reason the coils came by way of Panama. Then there was the french aluminum producer that supplied somewhat marginal materials that bought a very good mill in West Virginia (that made very good metal) and suddenly we were getting the crappy material from both sources with two different names and certs on it that hadn't changed. Rather odd.
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 11/20/07 22:09:56 EST

I've been invited to a gathering of blacksmiths this weekend, and want to use the opportunity to knock up a couple of pairs of tongs. I've not made any as yet, only bought a light pair from a flea market for flat stock. I need to bundle up some stock for whatever I intend to make. What size stock do you recomend for a basic pair of round-stock tongs for "general" use in a small forge on a small anvil?
   Craig - Tuesday, 11/20/07 23:19:51 EST

Craig, It depends on the method you are going to use and the level of your skills.

The classic method of making tongs starts with large stock, usually square for the bits and round stock for the reins. The bits are welded to the reins. If you have good forge welding skills this is more efficient than drawing out.

If you have high drawing skills OR a power hammer, then you start with a large piece of square or round and draw out the reins. For really heavy hand tongs 1" stock is used. For the average tongs 3/4" (round or square) is used. For light tongs you can use 5/8" (round or square) and it is possible to make nice small tongs with 1/2" square. In each case the square makes larger tongs so each size gives you some range.

Look for some 3/4" or 5/8" (19 or 16mm).

For dimensions and rein stock size see Tongs Dimensions
   guru - Wednesday, 11/21/07 00:04:03 EST

I am looking for some info on a "KOCH" power hammer, Manuals other owners ect.
Thanks, JB
   John JB Bergman - Wednesday, 11/21/07 02:01:21 EST

John, There is no information to be had other than a little company history that can be found in the book "Pounding out the Profits". See our review page.

Even when these machines (all old power hammers) were new the information was very sparse. The manufacturers expected their customers to be experienced mill wrights and mechanics as most blacksmiths were. The most you would have gotten is a short list on a single sheet of the adjustments and the admonition to oil the machine daily.

The general adjustment rule for all mmechanical power hammers is that there should be about 1/2" miniumum clearance over the dies for small work when the hammer is at rest and a little higher than the height of tall or large work. These machines have a narrow working range. If you work wide stock on edge the working height may need adjustment while working any piece with a large change in section.

Depending on the linkage type the toggles should be nearly in a straight line when the hammer is at rest.

If there is a stroke adjustment (not height) then it is set short for doing small fast work and planishing and long for heavy slow work such as drawing large stock. Most work is done at the middle of the stroke range.

I could be more specific but I am on the road away from my library.
   guru - Wednesday, 11/21/07 09:42:41 EST

I was at my local ABANA club (Houston Area Blacksmiths) meeting this past weekend and saw a nice metal folding rule. It had only two sections, each about a foot long. I have googled until I am blind and cannot find who might sell these, if anyone still does. I even checked eBay with no luck. Anyone have any ideas where I can find one?
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/21/07 15:18:19 EST

I wonder if some one can help me. I have recently purchased an Atlas power hammer unfortunately the motor has packed up and all the markings on the motor and on the the actual hammer have worn off so I have no idea of what size hp or speed the motor should be. Can anyone advise? also does anyone have any pictures of how to effectively guard one of these machines.
Hope someone can help.
Thanks a lot.

Ben Prothero
   Ben Prothero - Wednesday, 11/21/07 17:38:17 EST

Ben, is a mechanical (spring) or a pneumatic with its own compressor? - if you know the full blows per min of the hammer you can 'work it back' from there from the pully diameters. It will be quite obvious if its 2 pole, 4 pole or 6 pole motor. I can advise approx horesey powers if its a pneumatic, if its a spring someone on the other side of the pond may be able to advise better.

the size (capacity) of the hammer will give a clue to its BPM's if you dont know this figure.
   - John N - Wednesday, 11/21/07 18:02:04 EST

Ben, I don't have a clue about this hammer either. Depending on its size and type it could have required a low speed motor. This was common on old hammers. A motor shop SHOULD be able to tell you about the HP and RPM.

There are guards and then there are guards. On late punch presses the manufacturer guards the entire operating zone and the user must cut the guards in order to use the machine. This puts the responsibility for the guarding entirely on the owner.

On power hammers used for decorative work you work from every angle and no guards are used in the work area. US rules require hammers in industrial service to have flash guards in any direction that is not needed to access the work area and would result in flash splattering on workers not operating the machine. On mechanical hammers the arms and particularly springs need guards. It is easy to approach some hammers from the side and be struck in the head. Any exposed belts should be guarded. Note that guards need to be designed so that the common adjustments are easy to access.
   guru - Wednesday, 11/21/07 18:25:02 EST


These 2 foot folders used to be carried by many blacksmiths, and the old Lufkins were made of brass. I have seen a couple of them, but they were quite worn and beyond repair. I have two Lufkin 2 foot folders made of spring steel, both made when Lufkin was in Saginaw, Michigan. One locks because the joint butts together when opened. The other locks when a couple of small bosses snap into matching depressions. These two have circumference rules on them. I think Lufkin is now a part of the Cooper Group.

In England, Rabone Chesterman made [makes?] a nice brass one, No. 1243. It has inches on one side and is metric on the other.

I think you're bound to find one, if you keep looking.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/21/07 18:25:11 EST

Thanks, Frank. I guess I will use my 12" square rule for now and keep looking.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 11/21/07 19:10:11 EST

Quenchcrack. L.S. Starret makes a 24" folding steel rule, with the best made in the US quality. Quality that a lady once called here as "to die for quality. The product is #471. Any good mill supply should be able to order, and Hagemeyer, Mike Morrison @502-961-5930 will be able to order, and ship from a credit card. He has special prdered for several folks here.
   ptree - Wednesday, 11/21/07 19:22:24 EST

Single fold rules. Like Frank most of those I have seen were antique or collectors pieces. Somewhere I seem to remember a web site devoted to them. I also faintly remember one of the old blacksmiths manuals giving instructions on making one. .

Ah. . someone with a current Starrett catalog! They are on-line as well. Been avoiding such things as I am on the road using my old dial up connection. . .
   guru - Wednesday, 11/21/07 20:06:56 EST

Hi, well im looking for the books you have recommended on the page but since they are all in english im having a hard time finding any of them. I live in Chile (southamerica) and the very few bookstores that sells english written books dont have them. So Im asking if you know of any book of the kind thats been written in spanish, or if you know the translated title of some/any of the books (because i dont think that the, like, editorials would simply translate textually the english title into a spanish title, and anyhow im not familiar with the definitions so to translate the titles myself).

Thanks anyway, bye.
   Alvaro - Wednesday, 11/21/07 20:59:55 EST

Spanish Language Book:

I reviewed "Guía Practica de la Forja Artistica", an excellent book printed in Spain by Editorial de los Oficios. Occasionally, people have a difficult time obtaining the book. Their website is no longer active. The postal address is: Editorial do los Oficios, PolĆ­gono Industrial de LeĆ³n, parcela M-83, 24231 ONZONILLA (LEĆ³N) EspaƱa.

Buena Suerte
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 11/21/07 22:11:43 EST

Alvaro (and any else who's interested),

There's what looks like a useful Spanish-English/English-Spanish technical dictionary available here: http://tinyurl.com/34jra6. It's almost 100 years old, but that should be okay for blacksmithing.

I've been fooling with the Google book search recently (you click on "more" from the home page to find it). There are a surprising number of scanned out-of-copyright books available that way. If you click on "full view" you'll get only books that are on line in their entirety.

   Mike BR - Wednesday, 11/21/07 22:46:42 EST

i live in Utah and i've been looking for a hand cranked blower but i cant find one is there a special store that sells them or is there a way that i could make my own? any thing helps thanks
   Denny - Thursday, 11/22/07 01:33:52 EST

Hand cranked blowers: These are made NEW in India, Great Britain and maybe the Czech republic. Several of our advertisers carry these small cast aluminum models. Try Blacksmith Supply and Centaur Forge. You will not find them in a local store.

Otherwise the old ones DO exist but many are very worn and are difficult or impossible to repair. There ARE NO replacement parts. if they do not turn smoothly and run quietly then avoid them. You will find them with ironmonger at the flea market occasionally, farm sales and particularly at blacksmith meets. They also show up on ebay but at too high a price.

   - guru - Monday, 11/22/07 00:11:16 EST

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